More Info on FTC Guidelines for Bloggers and Endorsements

Copycense shared this link via Twitter. The Citizen Media Law Project does a pretty good job of digging further into the FTC’s new rules. Reading through the post, it looks like it is actually fairly hard to trigger the rules around product or service endorsements accidentally. The fact that the rules are fuzzy shouldn’t affect that threshold.

The FTC will look at the following factors to determine whether a message conveying positive statements about a product or service is an “endorsement”:

  • whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent;
  • whether the product or service in question was provided by free by the advertiser;
  • the terms of any agreement;
  • the length of the relationship;
  • the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and
  • the value of the items or services received.

This is backed up both by one of the videos the FTC produced to educate those affected by the rules as well as a quote in the CMLP post from a panel on the subject.

I don’t doubt that the rules could be abused given that they depend an a framework of several principles. Hopefully any blogger or podcaster caught by a false accusation of conflict of interest would be able to clear their name, if needs be. All the better if the person or organization bringing that complaint would be penalized, but that still remains unclear to me.

FTC Rules for Endorsements by Bloggers Go into Effect Today

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post notes the new rules start today. She has plenty of links to the educational resources that the FTC has been producing to help make the update to their existing rules around advertising and endorsement more clear.

I looked through one of the documents. It definitely had plenty of helpful examples about what is and is not an endorsement. Few of them directly involved blogs though, let alone social messaging or podcasts. The question for which I couldn’t find a simple, clear answer remains: does this apply to every last blogger on the planet no matter how small or only ones doing so in some sort of commercial context?

Songbird, Great but Am I Missing Something?

I have liked the idea of Songbird since I first encountered it. A cross platform media browser that re-uses much of the same components as Firefox and Thunderbird clearly has a lot to offer conceptually.

I have downloaded and experimented with just about every version since the first public testing release. I like the ability to play media embedded in pages and the browsing metaphor makes sense for discovery of new media. I haven’t focused as much on the library management but it seems pretty typical of these sorts of applications, like Amarok, Exaile and, of course, iTunes. That is not too surprising as they all seem to have ripped popular features off from each other.

Since I am not shopping for a jukebox replacement myself, I have been most curious about Songbird’s potential as a cross platform podcatcher. I was even pleased to notice it has bundled Ogg Vorbis playback in the just now available 1.0 release candidate.

Since they added the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds, however, I have not been able to figure out how to make that feature work. Am I missing something?! I see the subscription in my library but no media attached or available for download. I right-click and hit update…nothing. I am sure I am doing something wrong.

I’d love to be able to recommend Songbird so I don’t have to start off new podcast listeners with the question of what OS they use. Plus, you know, it is open source and like Firefox has a robust extension mechanism. Those qualities together give it great potential to shoot past the other offerings but I cannot in good conscience recommend it for a podcatcher if I cannot figure out how to make that feature even work.

Matt Selznick Live Streaming

I have been watching (and enjoying) novelist, podcaster and DIY advocate Matthew Wayne Selznick streaming live to promote the launch of the Swarm Press edition of his wonderful book, Brave Men Run.

If you have some time, today, stop by and check it out. He’s reading some brand new, exclusive fiction in the Sovereign universe. He’ll release these stories, later, consistent with his previous releases in podcast form or some other open media friendly fashion, but if you want to be among the first to hear them, check out the stream.

Even if you cannot spare the time to watch Matt’s stream, consider helping his rush on the Amazon charts by picking up a copy of the book. I posted a a review of the book along with some other links and details over on OMR.

Matt is the latest in a growing set of independent creators exploring novel ways to promote and share their works. I am an especial fan of Matt’s because he is a huge supporter of Creative Commons and open media. When he released the first edition of the book, he included an electronic edition, without DRM, under a CC license in five different formats. He even utilized a Developing Nations license allowing for commercial use in countries where that is the most benefit.

Watching him read and chat on the live video, I cannot help but think about Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans essay and think that what Matt is doing here is all about forging that close connection with readers that yields direct and significant support of his works, regardless of what traditional publishing may make of his sales or audience.

Open Media Review Re-Launched

Mur Lafferty, the other contributors and I have been discussing the fate of Open Media Review for a while. The site originally started as Open Media Watch when Mur and her good friend, Jason Adams, were working at Lulu.tv back before that video service mets its ultimate demise.

When she re-launched the site as OMR, I was one of the folks she invited to contribute. Since then, we’ve all struggled to keep the site going. Acknowledging that she doesn’t have the time to guide and grow the site, she offered me the chance to take it over rather than shutting it down.

This week we just finished the last piece involved in moving the site to its new server, one I administrate. I posted about the site’s relaunch there and have already set about making some improvements. I’ve added an automated suggest a link form and set up a Twitter stream specifically for the site. If I can find or bodge together an identi.ca plugin, I will also create a dedicated account there for the site.

The next thing I am looking to do is to sign on some new contributors. If you are interested in writing for OMR, or know someone else who may be, please send me a short CV covering your writing experience at cmdln at thecommandline dot net. In particular, I am looking for folks who can help reach a critical mass of ongoing posts to the site and ones who are especially interested in new and open media.

Substantiating the 1K True Fan Model

Kevin Kelly has some substantiation and additional thought to address questions in the wake of his 1000 True Fans essay. The bulk of it is actually a response that Kelly solicited from Robert Rich. He describes Rich thusly:

Rich was an early pioneer in ambient music, and a force in the Bay Area new age music scene in the early 1980s. He’s prolific, issuing about 40 albums in the past 20 years, many in collaboration with other ambient musicians.

Open Media Review

One of the topics I discuss here and on the podcast is new media. Much of this media is created by independent creators and distributed predominantly or exclusively on the web. A sizable portion of it also is available for free or under liberal conditions, such as any of the Creative Commons licenses.

One of the challenges with this new media is finding it. The folks at Creative Commons do a pretty good job spotlighting works that use their licenses but so far, I have found few other sites doing a good job making this job of a potential audience any easier. Most of the efforts outside of CC are centered around music and aren’t as concerned with the open or free aspect of much of this independently produced material.

My good friend, and new and open media creator herself, Mur Lafferty, approach me a few weeks back asking if I would be interested in a new site she was planning on launching. Before she was laid off from Lulu.tv, the ill fated video division of Bob Young’s print-on-demand venture, Lulu, among other things Mur was working on a portal site, Open Media Watch, trying to draw attention to the openly accessible portion of all this new, independent media.

She had a feeling then, and still does, that as much press as the Creative Commons itself gets and generates, this is still an area that is under covered by online news sites, blogs and other sites otherwise of interest to independent creators and their fans. I tend to agree with her. As great a job as CC does in this department, I think there is room for much more.

This past week, Mur announced the launch of this new site, Open Media Review, with the goal of bringing much deserved attention to the best that open media has to offer. She is uniquely qualified to run this site, having seen some of the best and worst of open media endeavors first hand. She is also extraordinarily well networked within the podcast fiction world, a thriving and lively space within open media. I have also been privileged to see the well deserved success of many independent authors enabled through an appreciation for what open access can do to promote works and build audience, whether that open-ness is based on a formal CC license or just an informal condition on traditional copyright.

For my part, she asked me to participate given the strong overlap in my interests with her goals for the new site. She has given me a great deal of discretion to participate as much or as little as I like or am able. I often feel that many of the more interesting new and open media stories don’t fit in as well as I’d like with the content I produce here, so welcome the opportunity to expand my reading and research to contribute to this complementary forum as well.

She has welcomed my insights as a technologist, I will try to live up to those expectations in my contributions. I am also an avid fan of all forms of open and new media, so think I can contribute much, there, as well. I have opted, initially, to act as a contributing editor as I have a lot of ideas for pieces I’d like to write and contribute. She’s also been very generous in not demanding any sort of exclusivity so I will be cross posting pieces of interest to both Open Media Review and my own readers and listeners.

So go check out Open Media Review and subscribe to our RSS feed.

New Media Juggernaut, Playing for Keeps

Say what you will about the differences between traditional media and “new media”, but its hard not to notice just how much more the most visible adopters of online distribution and amateur produced content get the fact that success hinges on engaging with your audience and giving them a more compelling experience than just transacting for a pre-packaged, impersonal good. (Here I use amateur in the sense of one who does for love of the work, definitely not the more modern usage that connotes lack of skill.)

Nowhere is this more evident than in the full court press currently underway by Mur Lafferty for her podcast novel, Playing for Keeps, set to launch this Thursday, November 1st.

I’ve known Mur pretty much since I started podcasting and with this latest endeavor have had opportunity to peek behind the curtain. Beyond the interest she has been able to generate through sharing her experiences first hand finishing, editing and shopping the novel on her writing podcast, I Should Be Writing, she has found a motivated core of contributors that are building an engaging experience around the audio of the novel itself. All of this, the novel and the fan built media, is free to the listener.

Mur could have continued to shop the novel or have trunked it after her first attempt to find a publisher. I am not sure this even occurred to her. Early on in the process of trying to get her work out through traditional publishing, she was already discussing with her audience sharing the work through podcasting if she did not find an outlet within a ten month span.

If you enjoy comic books, especially some of the more literate and sophisticated ones like Astro City, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy Playing for Keeps. And by subscribing, you’ll be supporting and encouraging more such clueful and innovative works of all genres and varieties.